Coming into yesterday, Hockey Viz had Columbus with a 90% chance of playing Pittsburgh in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. SportsClub Stats has them at a 99.1% chance of meeting, giving the Jackets a 47% chance of home ice advantage in their first round series.
So yeah, this is a big game. It will go a long way towards settling the 2nd and 3rd seeds in the Metro division. The Penguins jumped the Jackets on Sunday with their win over the Hurricanes and the Jackets’ loss to the Capitals.
Both teams are limping towards the end of the regular season. Pittsburgh has been without the services of Evgeni Malkin, noted-Jacket-killer Kris Letang, Carl Hagelin, Olli Maata, and now Chris Kunitz.
Columbus lost stud rookie Zach Werenski to a hard hit from Alex Ovechkin on Sunday. Werenski is “day-to-day” according to Coach Tortorella. Another key rookie, Lukas Sedlak, is considered “week-to-week.” Ryan Murray continues his recovery from a broken hand.
Good news, however, as hope returns from the IR in the form of BJORKSTRAND. But that’s not all; he brings some additional help with him from Cleveland in former Monsters teammate Sonny Milano. Both will play, with Matt Calvert set to be scratched. (Every chart on this page from Hockey Viz shows why I’m OK with that) I am very excited to see what kind of energy and offensive skill these players bring to the lineup. The offense is in dire need of a spark. The power play has been similarly disappointing; BJORKSTRAND practiced with the first PP unit yesterday.
With Werenski out, both Markus Nutivaara and Scott Harrington will play. I hope Nutivaara gets more minutes. He has been quietly solid all season.
Lineups are what I WANT to see. No word yet as to what Torts plans. I won’t be surprised if he tries several different combinations tonight.
|Boone Jenner||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Nick Foligno||Alexander Wennberg||BJORKSTRAND|
|Scott Hartnell||Sam Gagner||Sonny Milano|
|Brandon Saad||Lars Karlsson||Josh Anderson|
|Markus Nutivaara||Seth Jones|
|Jack Johnson||David Savard|
|Kyle Quincey||Scott Harrington|
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Conor Sheary|
|Phil Kessel||Nick Bonino||Bryan Rust|
|Tom Kuhnhackl||Matt Cullen||Patric Hornqvist|
|Scott Wilson||Carter Rowney||Josh Archibald|
|Brian Dumoulin||Ron Hainsey|
|Ian Cole||Justin Schultz|
|Mark Streit||Chad Ruhwedel|